Lord Rogers letter to the Rt Hon Michael Gove MP
I am confused by recent statements from Michael Gove.
Last week he told a Free Schools conference that “...we won’t be getting Richard Rogers to design your school; we won’t be getting any award-winning architects to design it, because no-one in this room is here to make architects richer.” Yet the previous day he had told BBC Radio 4's the World at One that “The truth about Free Schools is that they will introduce the sort of innovation and dynamism that we’ve already seen in schools like Mossbourne.”
He neglected to add that this former failing school in a deprived area of London – which is now achieving spectacular academic success – was designed by my practice, Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners (RSHP).
Given how many times Mr Gove, and the prime minister David Cameron, have held up Mossbourne as the model for what they wish to achieve in their education policy it seems odd that he now ignores the positive impact the building has had on the achievements of the school.
The design was recognised with an RIBA Award in 2005 and a Civic Trust Award in 2006. As its architects, we are extremely proud of the considerable positive impact which the Academy has had on the lives of the local community. Mossbourne (the only school RSHP has designed in the UK) was delivered outside the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme. Surely it would be more appropriate to interrogate the BSF programme to see if it has been able to deliver the quality and value which it was supposed to do?
Ultimately, school design is about creating a vibrant, stimulating and motivating environment – for staff as well as students – so that the highest standards of educational excellence can be achieved without compromising the needs of individuals. If we want schools which really reflect the commitment which this and future Governments should be making to young people and their teachers, those schools should be designed by architects who really understand and care about the communities who will use them.
Good design quality, improved educational performance and value for money go hand in hand; Mossbourne Community Academy clearly demonstrates how all of these can be achieved.
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